Friend or Foe?

March 2nd, 2012
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] The first portable radio telephone I ever saw was a huge ten pound device used by the US Army. It was very unreliable, operated on dry cell batteries and was only slightly more versatile than the old field phones used on the battle field. Many years would past before this “walkie-talkie” device was replaced by something more practical, thanks to the invention of the transistor and the nickel-cadmium battery. Everything about the old army unit would change but the nickname.
Our Islands
After the “walkie-talkie,” truly portable trunk phones became popular, enabling the owner to carry his home phone with him as long as he stayed within range of his home base transmitter. Today we carry a device so small that it can be misplaced in our pockets-the cell-phone. As the name implies it is a radio telephone that operates whenever the user is within range of one of the antennas that the telephone company has set-up around the country.

The area covered is divided into cells and a computer can switch a user’s set from one cell to another without the user ever becoming aware of the switch. The cell phone is a marvel of technology, with new features being added every day. It is so commonplace that I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one. Some of these phones are so cheap that they are disposable, though many people have died in their attempt to prevent common thieves from relieving them of their cell-phones. I have seen some people with phones hanging from their belts who cannot have any real reason for communicating with anyone and about whom I have my doubts that anyone would want to get a call from them.

Ever since the invention of the telephone there have been prank calls and the like. So phone companies after many years of effort came up with a solution: a backtracking device on the line. For a small price the person called can identify the number of the caller, rendering prank and obscene calls a thing of the past. But phone companies have now developed another service for another small price: You can have the company block the sending of your number to the person called.

The advent of the Blackberry service has divided the family unit to a further degree than it was divided by television. With Blackberry always in hand no matter the activity, the user can be ever present but utterly unengaged. Some say that cell phones have made romance obsolete. These days a few poorly written cell phone texts can suffice for the guitar serenade of old.

Banks are now insisting that no cell phone be brought into the bank. You must leave it at the door or at least show that it is turned off. Otherwise, crooks can use cell phones to advise accomplices on the outside that a certain person has made large cash withdrawals, so that the outside man is waiting on him, pistol in hand. Cell phones’ portability and small size have even made them a top item for activating timers and triggers for many destructive devices such as explosives from anywhere in the world.

Granted, the cell phone is not without some saving graces, most importantly as a lifesaver in emergencies when the police, fire department or ambulance can be easily summoned. [/private]

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